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Mark S. Hanson Elected LWF President

“Challenge, Encourage, Correct Me, I Lead not Apart but with You”

WINNIPEG, Canada, 26 July 2003 – The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), was elected president of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Saturday, July 26. He was elected on the first round of a secret-ballot vote, garnering a majority of 267 to 111 votes for the second and only other contender Rev. Susan C. Johnson, vice-president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). Out of a total of 379 delegates at the Assembly, 378 cast valid votes.

Upon his election, Hanson accepted the office “with a great spirit of humility.” … The task for me,” he declared, “is to listen, to lead by learning and accompanying you.” He encouraged the representatives of LWF member churches to “challenge, encourage, correct me . . . I lead not apart but with you.” He concluded that he hopes he never forgets his 22 years as a parish pastor where the centerpiece of ministry is Word and Sacrament, and so it should continue to be for the LWF communion.

At a press conference immediately following his election, Hanson declared that the new office will allow him to speak even more publicly, with Lutherans throughout the world, about the economic and military dominance of the US. But, he added, “The voice of the communion should speak, not just its president.”

On his hopes for dialogue with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the Roman Catholic Church, Hanson said that he is committed to continuing conversation with both bodies. He looks forward to the second round of conversations with the International Lutheran Council in Finland next year, and stated, “Large churches shouldn’t use emerging churches as pawns in power struggle for Lutheran control.”

With regard to the Roman Catholics, Hanson said, “I’m very heartened … We are just beginning to experience the fruits of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, beginning to do catechetical work, and are now in the difficult dialogue on ecclesiology and nature of ministry. It’s remarkable we’ve come this far.” He expressed the hope that Roman Catholics and Lutherans could collaborate in some fashion to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.

When asked about his plans to encourage the full and equal role of women in LWF deliberation and actions, he stated, “As men and as men in leadership, we need to be silent and listen to women and let women lead.” Yet he pointed to the need for sensitivity to each church’s historical context, culture and history.

Hanson declared his commitment to discussions among Lutherans that will include all points of views. “We should continue amongst ourselves lively conversations about what it means to be Lutheran.”

Hanson is the eleventh person to hold the position of LWF President since the Federation was founded in 1947. He will succeed Bishop emeritus of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brunswick, Germany, Dr Christian Krause, whose term expires at the conclusion of the Assembly next Thursday, July 31.

A president of the LWF serves a six-year term, from Assembly to Assembly. The holder of this position represents one of the seven regions of the Federation namely, Africa, Asia, Central Eastern Europe, Central Western Europe, Nordic Countries, Latin America and the Caribbean, and North America. Krause was elected at the 1997 Assembly held in Hong Kong, China.

None of the other six LWF regions nominated a candidate this time.

Mark Hanson, third presiding bishop of the ELCA, was elected to that six-year post in August 2001. Born in Minneapolis in 1946, Hanson graduated from Augsburg College with a B.A. in sociology. He was a Rockefeller Fellow at Union Theological Seminary, New York City, and received a Master of Divinity degree there in 1972. He also attended Luther Seminary, St Paul, Minnesota, and was a Merrill Fellow at Harvard Divinity School in 1979.

Following his ordination in 1974, Bishop Hanson served as pastor of Prince of Glory Lutheran Church, Minneapolis; Edina (Minnesota) Community Lutheran Church; and University Lutheran Church of Hope at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. He was elected bishop of the Saint Paul Area Synod in 1995 and had been elected to a second term upon his election as ELCA presiding bishop.

Hanson was elected LWF vice-president for North America at the September 2002 Council meeting in Wittenberg, Germany. He serves on the LWF Council, and Executive Committee. He is a member of the executive board of the National Council of Churches in the USA. He was president of the Minnesota Council of Churches from 1998-2000. At the time of his election as presiding bishop, he was serving as vice chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops. He is author of Faithful Yet Changing: The Church in Challenging Times (Augsburg Fortress Books).

His wife Ione (Agrimson) Hanson is a licensed social worker. Most recently, she was director of social work at Minneapolis and St. Paul Children's Hospitals. The Hansons are the parents of six children.

LWF Council Elected

Forty-eight nominees representing the seven LWF regions were elected to the Council at the organization’s Tenth Assembly.

Africa: Clergy: Marie Barnett (Sierra Leone), Iteffa Gobena (Ethiopia), Thomas Nyiwe (Cameroon), Zephania Kameeta (Namibia), Nemuel A. Babba (Nigeria). Lay: Doris Stephen Kitutu (Tanzania), Sindisiwe Ndelu (South Africa), Angelene Swart (South Africa), Mariette Razivelo (Madagascar), and Jhon Kundwe Mulanda (Democratic Republic of Congo).

Asia: Clergy: Chandran Paul Martin (India), Munib A. Younan (Jordan-Palestine), Jubil Raplan Hutauruk (Indonesia), Julius Paul (Malaysia). Lay: Kazuhiro Sekino (Japan), Shu-Chen (Selma) Chen (Taiwan, Rep. of China), Subashini Lall (India), Sophia Judika Hutagalung (Indonesia), Nakei Siloi (Papua New Guinea), Diadem Depayso (Philippines).

Central Eastern Europe: Clergy: Christoph Klein (Romania), Július Filo (Slovak Republic), Alexander Priloutski (Russia). Lay: Milita Poškiene (Lithuania), Klára Balicza (Hungary).

Central Western Europe: Clergy: Walter Jagucki (Great Britain), Maria Jepsen (Germany), Claudia Schreiber (Germany), Joachim Track (Germany). Lay: Hedwig Partaj (Austria), Thomas Jensch (Germany), Esther Selle (Germany), Peter Stoll (Germany).

Nordic Europe: Clergy: Niels Henrik Gregersen (Denmark), Eero Huovinen (Finland), Kristín Thorunn Tómasdóttir (Iceland), Anders Wejryd (Sweden). Lay: Riikka Myllys (Finland), Helge Aarseth (Norway).

Latin America/Caribbean: Clergy: Walter Altmann (Brazil), Victoria Cortez Rodríguez (Nicaragua). Lay: Sonia Skupch De Amarillo (Argentina), Virginia Ivañez De Neyeloff (Venezuela).

North America: Clergy: Emmanuel Grantson (U.S.), David Pfrimmer (Canada), Barbara Rossing (U.S.), Raymond Schultz (Canada). Lay: Abigail Zang (U.S.).

The Tenth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is taking place 21-31 July 2003 in Winnipeg, Canada, under the theme "For the Healing of the World." It is being hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).

There are around 820 men, women and youth participants in the Tenth Assembly including 380 delegates from the 133 churches with full membership and three associate members. The Assembly is the highest decision-making body of the LWF, and meets normally every six years. Between Assemblies, the LWF is governed by its Council that meets annually, and by its Executive Committee.

To order photographs, please contact LWF-Photo@lutheranworld.org

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